The Fact That Changed Everything: Bob Bates and Inner-City Arts The Fact That Changed Everything: Bob Bates and Inner-City Arts

The Fact That Changed Everything: Bob Bates and Inner-City Arts

by Carren Jao Jessica De Jesus

October 7, 2012

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Today, Inner-City Arts sees between 300 to 450 children a day, five days a week. It has also expanded its programming to include ceramics, theater, dance and animation, taught by practicing professionals, from full-time artists to Disney "Imagineers."

About 10,000 K-12 students from some of the county’s most disadvantaged families pass through the nonprofit’s award-winning one-acre oasis.

Inner-City Arts doesn’t just win high marks with parents struggling to provide their children with better futures, it has also proven its mettle to the education community. A recent study conducted by the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies showed that when students study the arts, they also improve dramatically on math, reading and language. Children who participate actively in the program demonstrated an 18 percent increase in reading scores, 8 percent increase in English proficiency and 25 percent increase in mathematics.

For Bates, these numbers are important but aren’t anything compared to the satisfaction of opening young minds to bigger, better possibilities.  “It’s all about getting young people to believe in themselves. To really track and follow their hearts and to use their minds as a tool to increase their ability to learn, grow and develop to the best of their abilities.”

Now 72, Bates continues to teach classes at Inner-City Arts, biking to work from his Montecito Heights home every day. As he walks the nonprofit’s white halls accented with the children’s colorful creations, he stops to greet young students by name every few minutes.

He reminds us, “You never know where the next genius is going to come along who will transform the world. We have the responsibility to all the students, all children. We take that really seriously. These kids maybe economically challenged, but they have minds, hearts, and potential that’s really unlimited.”

For Bates, the students are not just a set of standardized testing scores to be monitored. They are the bright lights seeking a place to shine. 


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The Fact That Changed Everything: Bob Bates and Inner-City Arts